MSG Leicester Meeting June 18th 2011
& pictures by Susan McEwen
Another good turn out at Leicester including some members we haven't seen
for a long time and 2 attending their first MSG meeting. The morning displays
by Gordon Peters attracted great interest and discussion about the Paquebot
system and maritime mail. The 2nd half included a number of queries, thankfully
some answers were forthcoming.
Peters with part of his Maritime Mail display
2nd round, 'Miscellaneous included a Bangkok stamp vendor's display sheet
of the 6 frames of Brian Geden's Standing Display
small section of the book auction before the sale
Geden and Mike Ludlow
A standing display from Brian Geden's collection drew great interest and
we thank Rosemarie for agreeing to it. After a light lunch the auction
started with 147 of the 167 lots being sold. In all an enjoyable day and
a very successful auction.
full report by Dominic Morris is set out below
Display by Gordon Peters and Book Auction of the Brian Geden Collection
Report by Dominic Morris
The promise of another display by Gordon and the auction of Brian’s
library, drew a respectable number of members and guests (20+) to our
Leicester venue for the auction of the late Brian Geden’s Malayan
library, in which there was also considerable postal bidding interest.
Gordon gave a wonderful, two-round display. Round One was Maritime Mail
in its many forms. His first two frames were Paquebot cancels, including
a study of Penang Paquebot cancels from straight line to circular cancels.
This in turn included the misspelling of ‘Penang Pacquebot’,
which the authority on these cancels, Roger Hosking, rated ‘E’-
somewhere between pretty scarce and very rare. (Gordon reminded members
that Roger Hosking’s ‘Pacquebot Cancellations of the World’
is available from the TPO and Seapost Society.)
Gordon gave us lay-men a helpful high-level explanation of the Paquebot
rules. As near as your correspondent understands them, they are these:
letters posted on the high seas require the stamps and rates of country
of origin (thus a GB originated letter for Singapore would require the
relevant Empire international UK rate; a letter destined for back home
would attract the GB internal postal rate), until the ship entered the
territorial waters of the country of destination; letters submitted within
those waters to the ship’s purser would require the stamps and postal
rates of the territory of destination.
Complicated? You bet. Many a ship’s purser and onshore postal authorities
didn’t understand them either, as Gordon demonstrated with a range
of items showing ships’ marks but no paquebot or postal mark (and
some variants in between).
These provoked a lively discussion in the room, including the theory,
which seems to have some force, that several could be consignee letters.
These would often carry the ship’s mark but neither of the other
marks, being handed over to the company’s agent on the wharves,
to expedite clearance of bills of lading and never entering the Straits’
postal system formally.
Frames 2-6 showed some lovely and intriguing items, including: a cover
with Pahang stamps via Singapore- probably a genuine Paquebot mark with
the cover picked up at Kuantan on the East coast (mail delivered by the
West coast route tended to be train mail which attracted a ‘false’
Paquebot mark); the only known Tumpat Paquebot mark - this 1923 cover
was offloaded at Tumpat and then had a Tanah Merah transit cancel (TM
then being the rail-head) then by road to its destination mark, Kuala
Krai; KPM Dutch shipping line cancels to 1948; a cover from HMS Prince
of Wales dated 8 December 1941- 2 days before the pride of Britain’s
Eastern Fleet was sunk by Japanese air power; Siamese stamps cancelled
‘Singapore’ but no Paquebot mark; examples of the Siamese
‘diamond of dots’ dumb canceller for mail from the Straits
discharged in Bangkok (these are seldom seen beyond the late 1920s- Gordon
showed us Geo V Jubilee cancelled with it, and a scarce one: the 1c Geo
V 1936 issue with the diamond of dots cancel); USA Paquebot cancels at
Penang; a 1966 Kepal (= ‘ship’) cancel, used only in that
year; Paquebot marks from North Borneo on Straits stamps/ covers; a philatelic
but lovely 2c Trengganu Sultan Suleiman cover with a ‘Suddhadib’
ship’s mark; a mysterious rate 90c (6X15c) BMA cover to England
on the SS Mahud- an unorthodox rate even allowing for what appeared to
be a removed label (Air Mail? Registered?).
As if there were not enough intrigue here, Gordon showed us two adverts
for the Siam Steam Navigation Co and the Straits Steamship Co. There was
an error in them. We had to guess what. Even your correspondent managed
to get right the transposition of flags error. But it took John Jackson
to point out the second, hidden, error: last time we looked, there is
no St. Helen’s Court, Singapore. There is one for London, a centre
for shipping companies at the time, which is what should have been printed.
John gets the bag of crisps prize. The posthumous sub-editor of these
inter-War adverts gets fired!
Round Two was an engaging pot pourri. This included: an artist’s
woodcut of an on-ship postal service in action in 1875; postcards from
the SS Hamburg; a ‘by land, sea and air’ 1937 Pahang cover
via Singapore; German Naval cancellations, including the famous No 28
cancel used by the SMS Emden (the date and QV stamp suggests this may
be an earlier use by a German Naval ship involved at the time of the Boxer
Rebellion in China); an only-one known Registered Maritime Mail cancel
and Registration label from 1947; a personal letter of thanks from General
Sir Gerald Templer to Major McLennan of the Irish Canadian Fusilliers
for 3 cases of whiskey (the ‘yours ever’ sign off and the
affectionate tone denotes that this was a letter between chums); private
air-mail sheets (several of us have some of these but none in the room
possessed, and few had previously seen, the ‘Xmas Greetings’
Dove in Naval rope circle, Naval Personnel aerogramme; it is posted in
board the MS Willem van der Zaan- even John Jackson, our NEI expert, had
not seen one before- a TMP article coming on?); postcards of a grumpy
Sultan Iskandar leading a procession (my favourite, but then I’m
an Iskandar nut); another postcard of a group of Europeans and the back
end of a Daimler with RCP as its number plate (The number Plate is Resident
Commissioner, Penang), one of the military gents is Templar, one of the
civvies looked liked Gurney, the murdered High Commissioner- but cannot
be as Templer’s arrival was after Gurney’s assassination in
Gordon concluded with a set of QEVII cancelled in Broome, Western Australia,
and cancels in Geraldton and Freemantle; a folding Ordnance Survey Map
of Penang (1901) and a lovely rice-paper-thin street vendor’s sheet
of stamps of Siam from the 1880s to 1942 (which sell for more in Bangkok
than they do here); the rare buff BMA aerogramme envelope; and a proof
of the NEI SNIP flight aerogramme envelope.
Andrew Norris gave an eloquent and well-deserved Vote of Thanks to Gordon.
Geden Malayan Library Auction and Standing Display
Brian’s collection was an interesting mixture that went well beyond
the usual MSG publications. It sold well with several items going well
above estimate. The items that went best were those that would be useful
reference items in future and his post-card/ pictorial items together
with those that illuminate hitherto unexamined items of Malayan life.
POW memoir books were mixed, a few sold well; many were already in possession
of MSG members. In total 147 of the 167 lots offered were sold (88%) The
‘Room’ bidding was strong and the prices realised were helped
by bids from around the world including several members who don’t
usually bid in our auctions.
We were fortunate in having in the room two MSG members who are book dealers.
One is a new member from Penang. He had brought along his very bright
and engaging daughter. As they staggered off to the bus/ rail-station
with several tens of kilos-weight of books, the wail of: ‘But Dad,
this is quality time?!’ was distinctly audible. (Those of us with
daughters of similar age can only sympathise!). Both will be very welcome
at our future meetings.
A number of other MSG members with good reference works slip-streamed
neatly into the auction’s vibe and got better prices than they might
otherwise have done.
Alongside the auction there was a standing display of some of Brian’s
postal history Singapore collection. I will not comment on this, other
than to say that it ravished the eye of MSG members. Whenever you hear
Gordon say: ‘I do not have that and have never seen that mark before’,
your ears prick up!
All in all, a very good day. And a very good memory of Brian, whom we
THANK YOU FOR THE LIFE OF BRIAN GEDEN
A few words from Susan McEwen
Dominic has given a comprehensive report on an enjoyable and memorable
day and has included our thanks to Gordon Peters. I just want to add our
thanks for the Auction to: Mike Ludlow + Andrew Norris for the Catalogue;
Peter Cockburn for ‘Calling’ the auction; the ‘runners’
Dominic Morris, Andrew Norris + Joe Robertson; John Jackson for invoicing
and despatching; Jane Ludlow for her tolerance and help throughout the
process and especially to Rosemarie Geden for entrusting Brian’s
books to the MSG Auction.